$11 Billion Spent On Health Care By Nigerians Abroad

 Nigerians have spent the sum of $11.01 billion on health-related services abroad. This is according to a review of the Central Bank’s balance of payment data.

It is important to evaluate the effect of the huge capital flight recorded by Nigeria over the years, as it goes a long way in determining the level of our foreign reserve viz-a-viz exchange rate. Hence, Nairametrics presents the second edition of the Nigerian BOP review series.

According to the data, Nigerians spent $11.01 billion on health expenses abroad between 2011 and the first quarter of 2021, recording the highest in 2019 with $2.56 billion foreign health expenses, and the least in 2016 at $17 million.

Quality health is a fundamental right of all Nigerian citizens and a basic necessity for survival and productivity. This makes the health sector a crucial component of the economy; one that ideally, should attract massive investment. Unfortunately, Nigeria’s health sector bleeds from multiple besetting problems, one of which is underfunding. Averagely, the sector has received 4.72% of the country’s fiscal budget in the last 10 years.

Although wealthy Nigerians are both willing and financially capable of seeking quality healthcare services abroad, it is costing the nation a small fortune and further compounding the FX pressures that Nigeria grapples with. While Nigeria records significant capital flight to fund health-related services abroad, it records no inflow for reciprocal services in Nigeria as the nation’s health sector leaves much to be desired in terms of service delivery, availability of adequate medical infrastructure and sufficiency of skilled professionals.

Meanwhile, according to the Global Health Workforce Alliance of the World Health Organisation, Nigeria’s healthcare service sector is affected by a number of factors, including:

  • Lack of public and private sector coordination;

  • Commercial pressures in the private sector that lead to poor quality work;

  • Work environments that contribute to low motivation, less-than-optimal productivity, high attrition – especially in rural areas; and

  • Lack of planning based on staffing projection needs, resulting in an overproduction of some categories of health workers at the expense of others.